A prince, a playmate and a pawn of royal conquest hold three distinct pasts that have shaped their present. Their stories intertwine in a tale of loyalty, love and redemption that call into question everything they've sacrificed for a better future.


3. The Choice

We changed into our best dresses: Alaqua’s a gorgeous white and blue silk, Zulma’s purple and black satin, and my gold cotton, each had many layered skirts with Zulma’s embroidery. We joined Detonae and Rosario, each in fine tunic and trousers, before entering to the Royal Court. I had yet to tell my friends my decision, as they would sway my end thoughts. Rosario introduced me to court before letting me speak. King Braven seemed amused with me now, though I was no sight to behold: blue eyes and dark straight hair with many freckles.


        “I stand before you, Grand Court,” I said, standing straighter, yet shifting my weight from one foot to the other.  “To speak my decision, not Rosario’s, nor any other man on this planet. I will be Princess Nadia’s nanny, in exchange for twice pay towards my friends’ leave.  My services will be here in the castle for the next two years, after which I will be allowed legal leave. Any other negotiations will be made with me before the scroll is set.” The Grand Court seemed stunned by my presentation, and by my terms, though the king looked at me, pondering the situation. 


        Almost immediately after I had finished speaking, Alaqua rushed up to me with a heartfelt hug. She quietly sobbed, and Zulma walked up with tears in her eyes as well to join the hug. Detonae stayed silent and did nothing more than look at the floor. Rosario stood quietly with his mouth open, like a bumpkin gawking at the marble columns of the palace.


        A maid automatically scurried out into the room, like a wind-up mouse, and spilled my bags across the floor. Apparently the king had agreed to my terms. King Braven stood and the court went silent, leaving the only noise Alaqua’s cries, that stopped as the king stared at her. The king looked at me, still pondering, before lifting his chin.


        “My dear,” King Braven said. “You prize a high bargain, but I will see to it that the arrangements will be made.” He glanced at me and then to my friends, eyeing them suspiciously. “Guards.” He called and three appeared one grabbing Alaqua by her blonde hair and Zulma by the ear, like a scolding mother. The other two each wrapped their arms around Detonae and Rosario.


        “What are you doing?” I asked in shock of the king’s deliberate actions. It was true that they indeed were in pain, as Zulma was close to tears, and she was tougher than nails. The guard yanked harder at Alaqua’s hair, making her chokes back the tears.


        “I am making sure that they are properly escorted out.”The king smiled and the guards dragged them away. No last good -byes; just tears and guilt. “There bags have been packed in a carriage that will take them to their next destination. We wouldn’t want them going back on our deal, would we?” The grand court shook their heads. The executive to the king rose from his seat, and walked towards me, as the maid rushed out again, gathering my bags, and then running into the corridor.


        “My dear… Cree was it?” The executive asked, pulling down his spectacles to eye me, scrutinizing my dress and hair. I nodded, curtsying, trying to be as polite as possible. “We have accepted all your terms, and your duties begin today. All we need is your signature. “The grand executive pushed me towards a high table, thrusting a quill into my palm. I turned my attention to the fine print, written neat, yet hastily. “No need to read, just, uh-hm, sign” Unwilled, I scribbled my name.


I was taken by Nadia’s charm and instantly became her companion. I watched over her carefully for many years, with the schedule of tea parties, school and dance lessons, and occasional balls and feasts. Though as time went on I realized the king had taken advantage of me, as the fourth year past. I asked for an audience with the king. I was granted access, but the king denied the existence of such an agreement. It took me only seconds to realize that I had been cheated and was now bound to an inescapable slavery I had chosen. Unlike the slaves working in the mines or on the plantation in the nearby valley, I was caught in words of chains, and my honor. Though as Nadia grew, a young woman of ten, her personality strengthen. No longer the perfect mistress, with charm, manners, and humor. She was now bound to chains as well, the stereotyping from village girls, and the influence of her mother and unruly sisters, had changed her into a royal pain: a snob.

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